Normally they would be happy with a draw on the road, but after dominating for much of the game, the Seattle Sounders are likely disappointed to leave Vancouver with a measly one point. Despite controlling much of the game and having over three times as many shots, Seattle didn’t make use of a man advantage, conceding just four minutes after the red card, and then were unable to retake the lead. Vancouver stayed back, played compact, and sprung a perfect counter – which has been our downfall all year. After equalizing, the Whitecaps completely parked the bus and Seattle had no answer for their 10-man defensive shell. But what a message about our expectations for the team: Seattle got a road point against a rival – a playoff team – and still we’re disappointed that we didn’t get all three points.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.2
Stefan did a good job of organizing his team, and while he wasn’t super busy (one save), his mobility helped limit Vancouver from any chances over the top.
In the 7th minute Frei was out to beat the dangerous Fredy Montero to a through ball and was willing all night to be aggressive. This showed up repeatedly on crosses, catching the ball cleanly in the 12th and via a left-handed punch in the 26th. In the 35th minute I appreciated the karate-style kick clearance off a testy pass back from Alfaro.
Cruising along the match funneling possession to teammates, Stef had a huge lapse of concentration in the 39th, and inexplicably passed the ball to Montero from the back. Seattle’s defense recovered quickly, and Frei himself could dive to his left and save Montero’s looping shot, but this was a horrible play and one that nearly handed the struggling Vancouver team a goal.
Frei was fine the rest of the game, getting another punch out in the 50th on a corner and receiving a gift call in the 80th on a similar play where he missed the ball. His distribution was strong and Stefan was an option and calming force for the two young left sided defenders.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.6 (off 84’)
Nouhou stepped into a starting role on the left and did very well, being a physical presence and defensively turning back any wide attacks for much of the game. At the same time, he romped up the wing contributing a key pass among his 89 percent completion rate from the back. His crossing was particularly dangerous, and Nouhou picked great angles from which to start his somewhat unorthodox delivery.
In the 8th and 9th minutes Nouhou glided forward into space, and his decision making when advancing was excellent all match. In the 17th his anticipation and pace created a steal near midfield and he chugged into the offensive third to connect with teammates, but the attack was quickly countered by Vancouver. It was disappointing to see five Seattle defenders in the box during this counter attack and none of them were Nouhou. In fact, Roldan beat him back on defense, running past the jogging Cameroonian. In the 28th the Hou again found an overlap and his far post service was beautiful, just missing an onrushing Leerdam.
The second half saw Nouhou run out of gas late, but not before showing great 1v1 defense on Montero after Alfaro was beat in the 57th and delivering more great service in the 71st. Nouhou was caught in no man’s land on the Whitecap goal, failing to mark either open player in the box, but it was a tough situation and hard to fault him for forcing the play the direction he did. At times when he gets forward he seems lost for ideas, missing creative tactical plays, but usually earns a corner or smartly backs out.
Tony Alfaro – 6 | Community – 5.6 (off 76’)
Alfaro seemed calmer in this match, keeping his feet and limiting his crazy out of control moments to just a handful. Tony’s passing was excellent (96 percent completed) and he often showed off an ability to complete long passes. At times, he looked out of control and some decisions were hurried, but I thought Alfaro was steady for a majority of the game.
After forcing a pass to Svensson that ended as a central turnover early, Tony made a composed drop pass to Frei in the 5th minute with Montero breathing down his neck. Alfaro was caught marking space in the 13th minute and was lucky no one took advantage. In the 13th he had a very late tackle that was close to being a caution. In the 23rd and 25th minutes Tony showed very nice defensive positioning and decision making, while making a confident header back to Frei to keep possession. Another poor pass back to the keeper in the 35th was followed by a rough play all the way on the right side, and again Alfaro was lucky to escape reprimand from the ref on a hard challenge.
In the second half Tony was relatively quiet, tightening up his defense and staying very compact with Marshall. Of particular note was a beautiful skipping pass to Bruin in the 56th minute. On the Vancouver scoring play he committed hard to force the cut-back pass. In retrospect I wish he’d forced Alphonso Davies into beating Frei from a hard angle than allow a cutback to middle, but his first responsibility is to stop the ball from going towards goal and he did that; it’s hard to ask much more of him. Alfaro was steady and while he still is prone to getting out of control with some of his hard tackles, his positioning and composure were relatively good against Vancouver.
Chad Marshall – 6 | Community – 6.1
Marshall struggled some with the elusive Montero, who ghosted around the field and found pockets of possession to create dangerous moments. Chad still managed a team high seven clearances and as usual his 93 percent passing from the back was superb. He even chipped in two shots and a key pass, but the overall defensive work wasn’t as impressive as usual.
In the 3rd minute Chad cut out a pass for Fredy and it looked like he was going to be all over Montero. But 10 minutes later he was ball watching as the Whitecaps striker got in behind him for an attempted header. After this Marshall was compact on his side, and even with some communication issues with Leerdam did a decent job forcing Vancouver away from good chances. On set pieces Marshall got the unenviable task of being matched up with the monstrous Kendall Waston, and did an admirable job. Offensively Chad stayed forward in the 48th after a set piece and nearly scored on a diving header, forcing a save from keeper David Ousted.
In the second half Marshall struggled some as the game opened up, and in the 59th he dove in on Davies and whiffed completely, allowing an attack behind him. Three minutes later Chad again made things happen on the offensive side, missing a tap-in shot attempt but having the reflexes to find Morris for an in close shot that hit the crossbar. It was a shame that sequence didn’t see either of these Sounders score, because in the 64th it was again Davies getting the better of Marshall. It looked to me like the young Whitecaps player pulled slightly on Chad’s shoulder and he turned this into a sliding clear attempt that went all wrong. After missing the clear and allowing Davies possession in the box Marshall took a bad angle and the Vancouver player smartly shielded him from impacting the play without conceding a penalty. This was a play that Chad will make a majority of the time, but up a goal and a man Marshall must do better there, either keeping his feet or kicking it out of the stadium. When in a three-back line Chad looked uncomfortable with an 81st minute giveaway, but won every physical battle in the last 20 minutes.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 7.1
Kelvin was less of a factor in the midweek game’s offensive thrust than the game against Minnesota, but still showed class in nearly every touch on the ball. Leerdam crossed fewer times this game, and had more success completing them as well, while getting involved offensively with three shots and two key passes.
Leerdam overlapped Nico when possible, but often Kelvin was given the right side to dominate, and he did a good job of doing so. Leerdam keeps possession going forward and was quick to recognize and use the central passes that Nico and Victor provided. In the 10th minute he had a free header on a corner but was unable to get it on frame. After being beat by Montero in the 25th, Leerdam was all the way up the field two minutes later to just miss getting on the end of a beautiful Nouhou cross. Kelvin had some issues with Marshall and positioning in the first half.
After the break Leerdam was pushed very high to try to get the second goal and his service to Marshall in the 48th was perfect. Another beautiful moment occurred in the 53rd when he ran down a long cross on the back post and maneuvered into a nice left-footed shot that forced a save from Ousted. In the 71st Leerdam calmly collected another cross and put back a ball that wriggled all the way through the box. His rushed shot in the 93rd ended the game.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 7.0
Roldan is the engine of the midfield and he was good stopping their attacks and getting the ball quickly up to our advanced attackers. He does so much and covers so much ground that even though he didn’t fill up my notebook with events, nearly everything positive (especially in the first half) was due to his positioning and tactical movement. He still managed three key passes along with a ton of great defensive work.
When given a chance (like minute 9) Roldan can play a pretty pass, which he did to Nouhou up the wing. I noted a missed pass to an open Svensson that put the Goose in a rough spot in the 22nd, but five minutes later it was vintage Cristian with some physical play beating three players and beautifully keeping possession. Nearly every attack could push numbers forward with the defensive midfield pair covering perfectly through any counter attempts.
Roldan won a nice 51st-minute defensive header in his own box and single-handedly earned Tony Tchani his second yellow with a gut-busting hustle up the left wing in the 60th. This play was a bit of a precursor though, as Roldan was again upfield trying to make plays four minutes later as Vancouver equaled the score. The defensive mids really needed to play more conservatively; as has happened numerous times this year, when they are not cohesive, Seattle leaks goals. Roldan did have a splendid 93rd-minute pass that should have been a game-winning assist to Kovar. Sigh.
Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.4
Most of the good things that happened in the first half were due to the hard work Goose and Roldan put in on both sides of the ball. Svensson completed 92 percent of his passes and added a key pass to many defensive statistics. He looked much more comfortable with Roldan, and while there wasn’t a lot of dynamic forward play, Gustav sat above the center backs and directed traffic well.
In the 7th minute Goose dropped into the hole between the defense and midfield and stole a pass, anticipating Vancouver’s angles well. In the 16th he stopped a counter with great positioning. Like Roldan there weren’t many stellar moments in the first half, but their work was essential in opening spaces for the offensive players to operate. Gustav did have a poor pass at the end of the half that was nearly turned into a dangerous counter.
Svensson started out the second half dropping a perfect crossfield pass to V8 in the 48th and then repeating this pass to Nico ten minutes later. Vancouver scored while Roldan and Goose weren’t connected properly, allowing a counter in behind. When asked to drop into central defense Svensson was great, playing in a three-back smartly and efficiently, showing great defense in the 84th and 88th, allowing Seattle to concentrate on pushing for another goal.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 68’)
Morris on the wing was somewhat an up and down experience. With technical players like Lodeiro and Rodriguez demanding possession, it was necessary for Morris to pick his spots to get involved, and he did this well. When asked, Jordan combined well in middle positions and seamlessly moved in conjunction with the wandering Nico.
In the 5th minute I liked the work that Morris put in to get a cross off, but he lost possession in the middle a few minutes later requiring some defensive hustle. In the 16th he RRBH* and got a cross off. In the 30th Morris ventured over to the right and just missed putting Leerdam into the box in a great spot. I liked seeing Jordan wind up and fire a shot right before half, and his desire to be goal-direct helped push the team forward.
It’s frustrating seeing Morris still not get shoulder to shoulder fouls, and his obligatory phantom call against came courtesy of the AR in the 53rd minute as Jordan made a great play that would have put him in alone on goal. In the 62nd he was in perfect position to snap shot a Marshall touch from mere yards away from goal but somehow it deflected up and off the crossbar, denying him from a likely game-clinching score. Moments before being subbed Jordan had a nice pull-back pass to find V8 in the box off a dash down the wing.
With Dempsey likely back to starting, Morris’ speed will be essential to unlock the spacing needed to fit all these creative pieces behind him. It’s highly likely his pace will be aptly utilized to get in behind defenses with three guys all capable of instantly dropping him in on goal.
Nicolas Lodeiro – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.4
I thought Nico had a great game, and then I saw the stats. They are absolutely bonkers. 106 touches with a ridiculous 93 percent completion including 6/7 on long balls. He had an amazing NINE key passes. Five shots, three of which were on target. He even had two clearances and three interceptions, showing a defensive work rate unheard of when coupled with that offensive productivity.
Nico had a bad pass that killed an attack in the 24th and missed a wide-open Morris in the 36th. Other than that, he was just phenomenal. Drifting into the middle early and often, he linked up with Leerdam, Rodriguez, Morris, and others to create chance after chance. Relieved of some set piece duty, he still chipped in great corner kicks on six different occasions, being dangerous every time he stood over the ball. Speaking of standing over the ball, he did so in the 19th minute. His penalty goal put Seattle into the lead and allowed him to make a quick phone call. Nico’s one-touch passing with Victor was phenomenal in the 24th minute, and then three minutes later he was slide tackling on defense to win possession to a teammate and jumpstart the offense. In the 29th he found Rodriguez for another shot. He finished off the half strong, defending well right before the break.
In the second half Nico became more goal direct himself, taking a blistering shot from outside the box in the 55th that forced a nice save from Ousted and earned a corner. In the 62nd minute he redirected a cross from Leerdam towards goal and almost snuck one in. In the 71st Lodeiro found Nouhou for the 873rd time wide with a nifty through ball. Nico did have a wide-open volley in the 90th but he squandered the chance to win it.
With another technical player to run off Nico looked invigorated, moving with the attacking group well, sometimes dropping off to send in longer passes and sometimes pushing high and working 1-2s. This was the dynamic, attacking force that blew into Seattle last year, and if we can consistently get this sort of play from Lodeiro, watch out.
Victor Rodriguez – 8 | Community – 7.8 (MOTM)
Similar to what I did with Nico’s first game last year, I composed an entire article of extended ratings about VROD and what we can expect from him in a Sounders uniform, highlighting his actions in this game.
Will Bruin– 5 | Community – 5.8
With everyone around him playing well, I thought Bruin struggled. He has the frame to be a target guy, but isn’t that great at using it, especially against Waston’s size and skill. Will struggled to get involved and spent a lot of time just trying to get out of the way as others buzzed by him into attacks.
In the 5th minute he was soundly beat to a nice through ball, but recovered a few minutes later to make a constructive touch to Nico. With some role reversal, he tried to hit Lodeiro on a through ball in the 6th and badly under hit the pass. When put through into a great attacking position by Rodriguez in the 11th Bruin fumbled away the control, failing to get a shot off. Will did save a ball going out of bounds in the 24th, which was great hustle making up for the fact that he made the same run as Nico which forced the situation to happen in the first place. In the 28th Bruin again mis-hit a great chance from Victor, but he earned a yellow on Waston with some hustle play four minutes later. He had badly failed hold up attempts in the 36th and twice in the 37th, losing possession three times in about a minute.
In the second half Bruin was nonexistent, not getting touches or being involved, failing to move Waston from the middle where the big defender earned a massive 11 clearances. It’s hard for me to see his value over Morris going forward. Jordan’s ability to stretch the field and get in behind is a huge plus for a team that looks to have plenty of offensive creativity.
Clint Dempsey – 6 | Community – 5.9 (on 68’)
Some said that Clint didn’t play well or that Seattle wasn’t as good with him on the field, but from what I saw they were just fine; in fact the team increased their shot output in the last 20 minutes. Dempsey had a lot of movement but was choked for service as Vancouver parked the bus and brought on yet another defender after Montero scored.
In the 77th Dempsey put a header wide of the far post. Clint was found tracking back, getting involved defensively near his own 18 in the 81st. His back-post run in the 86th was a simple finish if not for excellent defending by Whitecap Jordan Harvey to push a cross away. Dempsey missed a slip pass for Nico in the 91st, settling instead for a weak shot that didn’t test Ousted. He finished with a solid two shots in 20 minutes of work.
Osvaldo Alonso – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 76’)
Alonso came in and didn’t do a ton but helped keep Seattle consistently attacking. His brand of controlled possession didn’t match the frenetic pace of trying to snag a late game winner, and Ozzy didn’t have much effect on the game. His passing was a low (for him) 80 percent and few were more than wide switches. He did have a nice 85th-minute half volley from deep that was a great effort. It’s hard to judge Alonso when he is clearly not fully fit.
Aaron Kovar – 6 | Community – 5.9 (on 84’)
Asked to be a game-changer late Kovar was just that, adding pace, a dangerous cross, and goal-direct play. Two minutes after entering he just missed Dempsey on the back post before a minute later dialing up the back post on a shot that was barely wide. I would love to see him get those shots perfected; they are nearly impossible to save. In the 93rd Aaron found himself on the ball with a chance to be a hero. While he made the right move, his shot was blocked and left an open Dempsey wanting. Sigh.
Ricardo Salazar – 9 | Community – 6.2
This was one of the best reffed games of the year. Salazar was fantastic, finding the right number of fouls, cards, and advantage play that allowed for a great match. Unlike a similar game with a bunkering team less than a week ago, Ricardo handed out appropriate cards and controlled the game, which limited fouls and potential injuries.
He started out in the 2nd minute with an advantage call that was spot on. His 14th- and 17th-minute no-calls on Alfaro and Waston respectively for hard tackles were also accurate, and in the 20th another advantage play was textbook. There was zero hesitation when he called the PK, and Salazar was in perfect position (as he was all night) to assess the play and make the call. When presented with a difficult situation of Montero and Nouhou tousling and potential hands to face, Salazar assessed the play calmly, gave each a yellow, and ignored the obvious gamesmanship. I didn’t mind the non-call when Waston flailed his arms and Bruin ran into them, although I could see how this might be foul worthy. The problem is I just don’t think it was red card/PK worthy which it would have had to be for hands to face and that would have been really harsh. Ricardo assessed each game changing call quickly and accurately, allowing for the game to continue easily.
The yellow on Alfaro was the right call as well as the one eventually given to Waston. Both calls on Tchani were correct and Salazar wasn’t scared to ship a player off who committed a yellow-worthy foul already on a caution instead of letting the player commit card worthy fouls in fear of pulling the red. In the 59th Salazar expertly brought the ball back after he deemed no advantage was gained. This happened again in the 85th. This was just damn good refereeing and I was really impressed by the job done on Wednesday.
Vancouver Whitecaps MOTM
With former sounder Fredy Montero getting honorable mention, David Ousted gets nearly half the votes for helping to preserve the draw.
It’s time to put that behind us, bank the point and then go get 3 more against the Timbers this weekend. There is continued momentum (10 games unbeaten!) as well as the joy of throttling our local rivals and standing on them as we stay top of the conference.
*RAN RIGHT BY HIM